HELLO STRANGER combines everything you could wish for – a deeply romantic story
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 17 December 2018
This is the fourth book in Lisa Kleypas’ The Ravenels series and highly anticipated by many readers, including myself. I admit to being intrigued by the unlikely pairing of the level-headed Doctor Garrett Gibson and the mysterious government agent Ethan Ransom.
Ms Kleypas has created some of the most memorable heroes ever and Ethan certainly deserves to join that illustrious group. He is everything I look for in a hero – strong, flawed, passionate, smart, intriguing, honourable, loyal, tender and prone to saying the most heart-melting words. I love how, from the first moment he set eyes on Garrett two years earlier, he was totally bewitched by her…
She was sunlight and steel, spun into a substance he’d never encountered before. The mere thought of her left him like a stray coal on the hearth.
and is determined to protect her from harm during her weekly rounds to dangerous parts of London. Garrett is far from defenceless as she is taking fencing lessons, but I enjoyed seeing Ethan castigate the fencing master, Monsieur Baujart, for not instructing Garrett how to defend herself properly against the likes of himself.
“I suppose when she’s lying on the street with her throat slit, at least she’ll be able to console herself that she didn’t score any illegal points.”
Not only that, but he arranges to have all the locks on her father’s house changed because they are inadequate.
I love how he accepts Garrett for who she is, admires and respects her abilities and encourages her to be herself.
I couldn’t help but love Garrett from the moment she said these words to Severin in MARRYING WINTERBORNE…
(Severin) “This is Mr. Winterborne. The one with the department store. He needs to be treated by a real physician with experience and proper training, not to mention—”
“A penis?” she suggested acidly. “I’m afraid I don’t have one of those. Nor is it a requirement for a medical degree. I am a real physician, and the sooner I treat Mr. Winterborne’s shoulder, the better it will go for him.”
She had to be tough, resilient, independent and determined to succeed in a male dominated world. Her medical career has been the main focus of her life and she has steered clear of any emotional attachments which might have interfered with her work. At boarding school, she learnt endurance and self-reliance which has always made her keep people at a distance, afraid to let her guard down and trust anyone. She has always yearned to experience what it is like to be desired and loved but Ethan is the only man who has ever tempted her into such a relationship. I enjoyed seeing her throw caution to the wind and experience everything she has been missing.
Ms. Kleypas often pairs the most unlikely couples but the romance always works so beautifully. She can make a simple kiss feel so sensual…
His head dipped lower, until she felt a soft, hot pressure at the side of her neck. A shiver went through her, as fine and distinct as the vibration of a harp string. His mouth found an unbearably sensitive place and lingered in an erotic caress that made her toes curl inside her sensible walking boots.
and include lovely touches of humour…
Ethan lifted his head and gave her a questioning look.
“Your trapezius and deltoids are remarkable,” she said dreamily, her hands wandering over him. “And your latissimus dorsi are so perfectly defined.”
Ethan is the bastard son of the old Earl of Treanor and has always hated the Ravenels because of the way his mother was treated. I enjoyed seeing his attitude gradually soften towards the Ravenels when he realises that Devon and West’s lives have been far from easy. It was heart-warming to see Ethan feeling part a family for the first time in his life.
They exchanged grins. The grip of their hands felt warm and solid. Safe. This must be a brotherly feeling, Ethan thought, this sense of camaraderie and connection, this unspoken understanding that they would always take the other’s side.
I have a HUGE crush on West Ravenel (so looking forward to his book) who always brings a smile to my face with his irreverent humour. Here are two of my favourite examples.
“Mrs. Abbot, I’m going to the kitchen to wash. You’ll want to warn the housemaids to shield their eyes from the sight of my manly torso.”
“I’ve always been skeptical when people say, ‘The pen is mightier than the sword.’ It’s only true if the pen is glued to the handle of a German steel cutlass.”
The extent of Ms. Kleypas’ research is always impressive and I was fascinated by the details of the medical procedures carried out in the 1870s, as described in the book. I was interested to discover that Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the first woman to openly qualify as a physician and surgeon in Britain as well as becoming the first female mayor and magistrate in Britain, was Ms. Kleypas’ inspiration for Garrett.
The suspense and drama never overshadow the romance but do highlight Ethan’s moral dilemma when he has to choose between betraying his mentor, the man who has been like a father to him, and saving innocent lives.
I’m ending this review with my favourite, swoon-worthy, romantic quote.
“The first moment I saw you, I knew you were my share of the world. I’ve always loved you. If I could choose my fate, I’d never be parted from you. Acushla… pulse of my heart, breath of my soul… there’s nothing on this earth more fair and fine than you. Your shadow on the ground is sunlight to me.”
MY VERDICT: HELLO STRANGER combines everything you could wish for – a deeply romantic story, unforgettable characters, humour, passion and drama. Highly recommended.
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